There were a lot of major talking points heading into the face-off with Barry Robson’s Aberdeen side on Sunday afternoon.
The potential effect on confidence and momentum of that humbling defeat at the hands of Atlético Madrid could not be under-estimated. There were other repercussions from that mauling in Madrid to consider as well, as Daizen Maeda was injured and out of the side to face the Dons in what was shaping up to be a potentially tricky encounter.
With Maeda and his country man, Reo Hatate, both out of action until after Christmas, Celtic needed players to step up in their absence, especially given both players’ importance to the team.
All three players are at different stages of their Celtic careers: Paulo Bernardo is looking to prove to Brendan Rodgers that he is worthy of a permanent deal at the end of this season; David Turnbull is at a crossroads in his career, with his contract expiring in the summer and no guarantee of regular first-team football; and Odin Thiago Holm is a young prospect on a long-term deal looking to build himself into a first-team starter.
When the starting XI was announced, it was Holm that was trusted in midfield against the Dons. Meanwhile, replacing Maeda on the wing was Yang Hyun-jun, who was given an opportunity after impressing against Ross County in the previous league fixture.
Odin Thiago Holm
The Norwegian had impressed in bursts in his first few appearances for Celtic, but a red card on his Champions League debut against Feyenoord in Rotterdam, as well as an injury, seemed to derail that early momentum that he was building up.
After returning from injury, a few impressive performances from the bench were enough to earn him a starting role against Aberdeen, and in his 52 minutes on the park he showed enough quality to earn the approval of the supporters.
It was a well-rounded display as he was heavily involved in Celtic’s attacking play as well as doing the dirty work off the ball. He showed enough to warrant a start in the next league fixture, but with Turnbull and Bernardo also performing well when they have played, he can’t afford to let his performance levels drop.
The South Korean winger has featured fairly regularly since signing in the summer, but most of the appearances where he had a real impact on the game had come from the bench.
After terrorising the Ross County backline from the start last weekend, Yang had shown enough quality to prove that he was the man to take Daizen Maeda’s place for Sunday’s game, and boy did he take the chance he was afforded.
He netted his first ever Celtic goal with a well-placed header from a Luis Palma cross and he was heavily involved in everything Celtic were creating, laying off a neat pass to Matt O’Riley which eventually led to Celtic’s second goal of the afternoon.
The tricky winger was eventually substituted for James Forrest after suffering a nasty cut below his eye, but of all the options currently gunning for that starting role on the right, it looks like Yang Hyun-jun’s position to lose.
JAMES MCKENZIE // Follow James HERE